As of Saturday, 25 years has passed since the murder of 14 young women at Montreal’s l’Ecole Polytechnique shocked the nation.
The Montreal Massacre of Dec. 6, 1989 prompted annual awareness efforts including the YWCA Canada National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women as well as the YWCA’s Rose Campaign. But in spite of the two and a half decades that have passed since that horrific event, the Rose Campaign website points out that “violence against women is everywhere. We live in a culture that teaches girls how not to get raped, instead of teaching boys not to rape. That’s not okay.”
The #NOTokay campaign notes that, on average in Canada, a woman is killed by her intimate partner every six days.
The issue of violence against women has had its profile raised dramatically this year as a result of domestic assault incidents involving professional athletes, perhaps most notably National Football League star Ray Rice. That has brought the discussion into the public eye and has brought a number of professional athletes on board with awareness efforts aimed at combatting violence against women.
The effort needs all the help it can get.
In spite of recent statistics indicating that the crime rate in Canada is falling, violence against women continues unabated. The Canadian Women’s Foundation website points out that half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16. In addition, 67 per cent of all Canadians say they personally know at least one woman who has been sexually or physically assaulted.
As the Rose Campaign website suggests, the key is to educate the next generation of men that violence against women is not acceptable. That requires getting the message across to the current generation, too, because they are the ones who need to start setting a better example. It also requires society as a whole to stop making excuses or allowances for mistreatment of women, and that might sometimes mean taking an uncomfortable stand against abusers – even if they are family members or friends.
As the Rose Campaign says, “Accepting violence as a natural part of society is not okay. Together, we’re going to stand up and say it’s NOT OKAY.”
If we need a reminder why this cause is important, the 25th anniversary of the day 14 women were gunned down should be more than sufficient.